This has been a long time coming. No, not this review, but the lesson that the Avengers are taught this issue. And yes, this review has also has been a long time coming as well. I wanted to group this with the final AvX issue so we can finally put to bed the AvX event that has pretty much consumed my summer… and Scott Summers (hey oh!). So when you’re done with this review, make sure to look right above this article for the final score of the little game of baseball the heroes had been playing… cause that’s all this was right? A friendly game of ball? And everybody will be on good terms again, right? No…? Okay, I guess not.
The New Avengers, vol. 2 #30
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mike Deodato
Color Art: Rain Beredo
Letters & Production: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artists: Mike Deodato & Rain Beredo
The New Avengers: Luke Cage, Daredevil, The Thing, Mockingbird, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist. (No Spidey this time again. Sorry, everybody)
Plot: Emma Frost has lost her connection to the Phoenix Force thanks to Cyclops’ recent betrayal. Now she is in the New Avengers’ custody in the back of an armored van. Luke Cage and Daredevil discuss the perils of raising a family while a member of the Avengers, much to Emma’s annoyance. The conversation is interrupted when their caravan comes under fire by a band of Purifiers, a mutant-hating religious cult.
The Purifiers brand the Avengers mutant-sympathizers when they don’t turn over Emma Frost, and the zealots attack the heroes. Mockingbird and the Thing join Daredevil and Luke in fighting the Purifiers. Emma takes advantage of the momentary distraction caused by the scripture-reciting Purifiers and tries to flee from captivity. Daredevil halts Emma’s escape with an expertly-placed, ricocheting baton.
A Purifier equipped with heavy-duty weaponry gets the drop on Luke Cage and relentlessly attacks the bulletproof Avenger. Luke is thrown against a wall and continuously fired upon. In between cannon blasts, Luke experiences flashbacks to moments spent with his family. The Purifier stands over Luke. Luke states that he’s had enough and knocks his antagonist out. The rest of the New Avengers follow suit and the Purifiers’ surprise attack is thwarted.
Iron Man, Thor, the police, and other emergency units arrive on the scene. Luke borrows a cell phone and calls his wife. Luke tells Jessica that he’s coming home for good and walks away. Daredevil informs Iron Man and Thor that Luke just quit the Avengers.
Avenging Analysis: This lesson has been a long time coming for the Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Universe. The Avengers finally get a taste of what the mutant race has been put through since the species’ emergence. Cyclops may have exaggerated the lack of support from Captain America at the beginning of Avengers vs. X-Men, but it helps emphasize how outdated and wrong the Purifier’s bigotry is to have characters like Luke Cage and Daredevil face the same senseless hatred mutants face on a daily basis. This is an early hint at how Avengers vs. X-Men will be resolved because Captain America should no longer tolerate this type of persecution. And it was this persecution that drove Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men to seek shelter on Utopia.
It must feel good for the Avengers to actually beat up on bad guys once again instead of fighting with their mutant allies. The Purifiers are a smart choice as an outlet for the Avengers’ frustration. The action could be seen as the Avengers warming down from their battle with the X-Men and just simply going through the motions. It was still nice to see a bit of a cocky side to the Avengers emerge again as they face down a deadly threat. Through their conversations in battle you begin to see the Avengers sympathize with the mutants’ plight, but not enough to let Emma Frost get away. The bouncing baton which Daredevil used to knock out Emma was a humorous highlight of the action.
I enjoyed the way Bendis handled Emma’s conversation with the Avengers in the beginning. Her distaste for Luke and Daredevil’s touching conversation and her feigned hurt feelings at being misquoted were typical Emma. There’s still a sense of civility between the two sides and the fact is that their recent altercations were just a matter of different beliefs between two groups who want the same result – a better world for everyone.
Before Emma interrupted, Luke and Daredevil were having a nice heartfelt exchange about Luke’s role on the Avengers. Bendis has done a great job of bringing the story focused on Luke Cage to a close. Having Luke surround himself with close friends on the team makes leaving the team a much harder decision. One of Bendis’ strengths is his ability to lay out, foreshadow, or recall story events or jokes, an example being Mockingbird and Iron Man’s similar yearnings for just “one normal day.” On the other hand, the Purifiers repetitive recital of biblical lines got a bit old.
The counterpoint to Bendis’ wittier lines are his jokes which seem unnecessary or out of place. I felt that Daredevil’s joke about both he and Luke being black was kind of lost. It made me think too much and took me out of the story. The implication is that because Daredevil is blind, he could think he’s black, but Emma wouldn’t get that joke because she wouldn’t know Daredevil is blind. But why wouldn’t Emma know who Daredevil is? Daredevil’s secret identity isn’t the best kept secret in the Marvel Universe to begin with. I would also think that the first thing Emma would have done with infinite Phoenix power is to lift all the secret identities out of the Avengers’ heads. There were just too many inconsistencies to make that joke funny.
The highlight of this issue is Luke Cage coming to the decision to leave the Avengers. I enjoyed the montage which showed Luke’s memories of Jessica and their baby. For a minute I actually believed Luke was going to die, becoming a martyr in this anti-mutant war. His death would have been much more surprising and impactful than Professor Xavier’s and it would have definitely been an interesting end to Luke’s street level Avengers.
The New Avengers and creative team are going through the motions as the big Avengers vs. X-Men event comes to a close. The good thing is, those motions have been consistently enjoyable recently. There’s a little bit of everything mixed into this issue, some fun action, good character focus, and a few humorous moments.